S. is the pastor in a town in central France of 40 000 in habitants, with a variety of industries and jobs.
As the parish is spread over a wide area, the pastor has to do a great deal of travelling.
There are about 200 families in the parish, of which 80 contribute financially and 40 come to the services held every Sunday; every third Sunday there is Holy Communion.
12 children come to Sunday School, which is held twice a month. 10 children only come once a month so the pastor has to organize the children’s activities according to circumstances.
Confirmation candidates follow a 3 year course and every month either attend a meeting or a weekend.
As there is no local Scout group, the pastor organizes a summer camp for 14-17 year old teenagers, which is similar to a Scout camp.
Pastor S. often visits his parishioners: about a hundred times a year – either they contact him or he decides to get in touch with them. He also receives people in his office next to the temple. He is aided in these visits by members of the parish counselors, each doing about 12 visits a year. There is a psychologist available to help both the pastor and his counselors in the most difficult cases.
The Sunday service is the most important event in his week. He has Mondays off, but begins the preparation of his sermon on Tuesdays and this takes much longer than actually writing it out. His theme is chosen in the ‘Daily Bible Reading’ of the following Sunday.
The liturgy plays an important part and its theological aspect has to be respected. The pastor uses the current Église Réformée de France liturgy (known as the ‘yellow liturgy’).
On the 5th Sunday of the month (about 4 or 5 times a year) there is a ‘new style’ service prepared by a group of parishioners which may be different from the traditional one. And once a month the pastor prepares a ‘mini sermon’ especially for children.
When the pastor has a Sunday off or is on holiday, a specially trained lay preacher takes his place.
The pastor’s activities are real opportunities for evangelizing: baptisms (about 5 a year) are prepared at three meetings; as for weddings, which are mostly to non-Protestants, there are about 5 preparatory meetings. There are between 5 and 10 funerals a year.
There are several Bible Study groups in the parish: either local town groups or else special ones for those living far away; there are also ecumenical Bible Studies
Links with other communities
S.’s parish has regular contacts with a large, active Evangelical community in the same county. In S.’s town there are several Catholic parishes. He works closely with them and there is an annual pulpit exchange.
He also has many contacts with a local branch of the pro-ecumenical community called the ‘New Way’.
On the other hand, there is no exchange with Jews or Muslims.
As a representative of the United Protestant Church of France, S is invited to all official events.
Key values for the pastor and his parish
- To develop his spirituality
- To respect the theological aspect of the Gospel
- To know how to listen to others so that they will want to listen to him
- To help others to discover the Bible
- To delegate responsibility to his parishioners and train future leaders
- To build up a team of people willing to prepare services
- To be always ready to welcome newcomers
The life of a pastor in the Evangelical Church
Testimony of a Lutheran woman-pastor
Testimony of a pastor of the Reformed Church
Being a pastor today
Pastors appointed to a parish have many points in common: their vocation, their theological training and the tasks they have been given to do. However, each protestant Church has different expectations regarding its pastoral ministry.